Full frontal male nudity is nothing new on cable TV — it’s been rather prevalent this year in fact, with dongs dangling across all kind of programming. There have been smug dongs in The Affair, there was a threatening dong in Outlander, there were sad dongs in The Leftovers. This one on Game of Thrones was noteworthy not because of how it was presented, but how it wasn’t. There was no backlight, no razzmatazz, nor was it used to highlight a character’s vulnerability. It was just there. Hanging out.
That’s exactly what it looked like.
For so long, Game of Thrones has navigated sex and nudity in a way that’s frankly embarrassing, for a Peak TV show in this day and age. It’s failed to recognize when it’s showing rape — a truly mind-boggling thing to do — and there has always been a comical imbalance in the genders of the naked bodies it shows; in the parts the camera lingers on. Whose body was the focus of Jon and Ygritte’s cave scene? Not Jon’s. And sure, we’ve seen Olyvar the prostitute naked, but how many female prostitutes have nonchalantly pranced around in merkins? Too many to count.
Vulture kindly rounded up Game of Thrones’s past penis history to prove that this really isn’t the first time this has happened. And it’s true: We’ve seen Theon’s sad dick, Hodor’s prosthetic dick. During Cersei’s walk of shame, we saw that King’s Landing commoner flash her.
But none of them were presented in a way that was remotely desirable, whereas the women we’ve seen naked have all been conventionally attractive — a fact the framing of the scenes emphasize. For a show that embraces exploding heads and severed limbs and the female form, Game of Thrones has always been oddly prude about the male form. Previously, it’s penises have been Statement Penises. They’re there to be shocking or pitiful or threatening. Unlike naked women, they’re never window-dressing.
Now, because the actor playing Joffrey was examining his genital warts, we can’t exactly say he was presented in a desirable way. But it wasn’t shown in the context of torture or torment or aggression: It was just there as window-dressing. For the first time in its run, Game of Thrones presented a dong in a way that was just as casual as the way it’s always shown naked women. And that’s something to raise our swords to.